This week’s newsletter should lead with an update on the on-going work we have recently undertaken against the shocking levels of pollution affecting the Bay area caused by the CEPSA Oil Refinery particularly on 29th January. This is not a new issue for the ESG – it being one of the key or core campaigns we embarked on soon after we formed in the early 2000’s. We have therefore built up a considerable case of technical and campaign data on this industrial facility that has formed the basis for numerous complaints sent to Brussels, directly, with the assistance of the international law firm Hassan’s, and with the support of MEPs, from 2006 onwards.
Pollution emissions at this plant have improved to what they were, say, five years ago and much can be attributed to the persistent campaigning by NGOs on both sides of the border. It is surprising to us that many seem unaware of the efforts made by Spanish groups in fighting for environmental issues in the Bay and surrounding area. They certainly do and visits to either the Agaden or Verdemar Facebook page or websites will easily inform on the sustained campaigning carried out by them.
Indeed the latest round of heavy pollution has seen us take immediate steps in lodging a detailed and evidence based complaint with the appropriate directorate in Brussels, and has also seen the Spanish NGO Verdemar, now organising a protest to take place in Algeciras on the 28th February. They will be calling upon their Spanish authorities to better enforce environmental and safety regulations at industries like CEPSA, citing spikes in polluting incidences recently by CEPSA and Acerinox and raising concerns about the impacts these will be having on the health of local populations residing close to the industries as well as throughout the Bay.
Verdemar has circulated a poster which advises that the march will start at 12.00 midday from Salida Parque Ma Cristina and will end at the subdelegacion del gobierno where demands for greater enforcement of environmental regulations will be made by the protesters.
The ESG would like to take this chance to welcome the fact that the Gibraltar Government has felt able, on this occasion to take the unprecedented step of also lodging a formal complaint with Brussels, in fact supported by the whole of the Gibraltar Parliament– we commend their action and hope it helps achieves the desired outcome of continued improvement at the refinery and acceleration in the implementation of the 2008 audit. We await a response from the European Commission and are monitoring the situation very closely.
Another area of interest and concern to the ESG is bathing water quality in Gibraltar, in particular with reference to Western Beach, since 2010. A diversion of a dodgy storm drain led to untold levels of sewage contamination affect this popular beach followed by complaints, protests etc. You can see the consistent pattern of pollution displayed very clearly on the newly launched Environmental Agency website. Historic and current data is there and provides environmentalists, students and anyone wanting to check the health of our waters before swimming with a clear and easy to use resource. Visit environmental agency gi for more info.
Watch out for the next DPC meeting – that’s the development and planning commission meeting publicly on the 22nd February. There may be a number of significant proposals coming up, details of which can be found at egov.gi under Town Planning. Please contact us for more info on anything you have heard today: Email at email@example.com. Thanks for listening.